SAO PAULO (Reuters) – In addition to disappointing revelers, the cancellation of Brazil’s annual Carnival celebrations amid the rise of COVID-19 also means that street hawkers living on the outskirts will lose what for many is the biggest payday of the year .
Claudia Máximo Torres and his wife Daylane typically sell about 10,000 cans of beer to partygoers at Carnival time in São Paulo, where parties can last several weeks, making a profit of more than 7,000 reais ($ 1,300).
“For Carnival, the numbers are wasteful,” said Torres, 38. We literally must now throw all of that out the window.
The pair are among tens of thousands of people who work as street vendors, known as “ambulantes” in Portuguese for their wheeled coolers that allow them to circulate in crowds, losing annual profits.
“The ambulants work with us every year and they suffer a lot,” said Jean Jereissati, chief executive of Brazilian beverage maker Ambev SA.
Ambev, who usually runs massive promotional campaigns at Carnival in collaboration with vendors, has instead launched a relief program to help the salespeople.
The company estimates about 20,000 people will use the program that will provide 255 reais worth of assistance to individual vendors in the form of food baskets and coupons.
While less than $ 50 in aid may seem small, Torres compares it to emergency payments from the government last year which peaked at more than $ 100 a month.
Torres said that although he had long ruled out a normal Carnival this year, he pinned his hopes on one thing: “Vaccines”.
“Next year, I hope the carnival can happen again,” he said.
($ 1 = 5.3698 reais)
Reporting by Leonardo Benassatto; Written by Jake Spring; editing by Grant McCool